• Joe Broback

Jaret Patterson: College football's most underrated running back

Greatness comes in different shapes and sizes, and that includes within college football. While most fans focus on the elite of the elite, great players can be found all over the country. Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson is the perfect example of that. The Bulls and the rest of the MAC return to action this week, and college football's most unique conference in terms of scheduling brings some joy back to our lives. #MACtion returns, which is one of the best things about college football, and the Buffalo Bulls hope their star back is ready to have another monster year.

At 5'9", Patterson wasn't highly recruited coming out of St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Maryland. In fact, according to 247Sports, Buffalo was the only school to offer Patterson a scholarship. Turns out everyone else was missing out.

As a freshman for the Bulls, he nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards on the ground while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring 14 touchdowns. He followed that up with a monster sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,799 yards and 18 touchdowns, but also added 209 yards receiving and another score. The hype coming into his junior year continued to grow until COVID canceled the season. With the MAC back, both Patterson and Buffalo are ready to put on a show.

Despite being 5'9" and 195 pounds, Patterson plays much bigger than his numbers indicate. Broken tackles are a common theme on his runs because his lower body is so strong to withstand many hits from defenders bigger than him. The reason why the hype surrounding Patterson got so large is because of those broken tackles and big runs. In fact, in the final six games of the 2019 season, Patterson rushed for 1,113 yards and 15 touchdowns, including 663 yards and 12 touchdowns in the final three games. Buffalo's a contender for the MAC title, but also the New Year's Six bowl game, and it all starts with their star.

Lance Leipold's turnaround of the Bulls program doesn't get appreciated enough. Before he took over, Buffalo had just two years at the FBS level in which they won eight games in a season. In his five years, he's already done it twice. Bringing in guys like Patterson helps, and the return of a good number of starters on both sides of the ball makes the Bulls a potentially dangerous team in all of college football this year.

Patterson's already fifth in school history in career rushing yards after just two seasons. He also holds the single season and single game rushing yards records, tied for second in career rushing touchdowns, first in single season rushing touchdowns, and tied for first in rushing touchdowns in a game. He's already a name that will be remembered forever, but can also elevate his game and his team even more. Buffalo might be a team with a target on their backs, but they're ready for those expectations. If teams don't know Patterson's name by now, they'll learn the hard way when all they're seeing is 'Ja. Patterson' and the 2-6 running away while they're laying on the ground.

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